Johnny Depp won a total of $15 million in damages on three counts of defamation by Amber Heard on Wednesday afternoon, June 1, 2022. Ms. Heard won a counterclaim against Depp due to defamatory statements by his lawyer and agent in the amount of $2 million. Part of Depp’s total award came in the amount of a $5 million punitive damage award, which was immediately reduced by the judge according to Virginia’s statutory cap on that category of damages. Absent any appeals, Ms. Heard will have to pay Mr. Depp $8,350,000.
Judge Penney S. Azcarate first had to direct the jury to fix the verdict form, which they left partially blank. Court resumed about a half-hour later when the counts were read aloud. Heard was present in the courtroom for the reading of the verdicts, while Mr. Depp is reportedly in the UK. A statement was read on his behalf, however, after the verdict. “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” the actor said by way of a spokesperson. “Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
Mr. Depp sued Ms. Heard, his former wife, for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for a prominent Washington newspaper alleging she was the victim of domestic abuse. The piece did not identify Depp by name, but the actor charged the allegations still tanked his superstar career and made him persona non grata around much of Hollywood. Amber Heard countersued her ex-husband for $100 million, accusing him and his former attorney of conspiring to “destroy and defame” her for calling the op-ed false.
The six-week-long trial took on a circus-like atmosphere at the packed courthouse in Fairfax County, Virginia, and online, where the trial was broadcast live to millions. The courthouse set up a special webpage to manage visitors and information, and social media accounts were dedicated to highlighting trial coverage. The trial revealed Depp and Heard’s toxic relationship, including reciprocal allegations of spousal abuse. Other revelations included that ACLU staffers were the principal authors of the op-ed credited to Heard, and she refused to hand over a multi-million dollar donation she promised to give the organization.